Newspapers: Make money online, minus the news

Who knows more about Santa Cruz, California than the Santa Cruz Sentinel?

Well, that’s debatable, but let’s put it another way: Who’s bothered to put together a modern, readable Santa Cruz site for tourists?

That’s right, the Santa Cruz Sentinel. is live, and it looks like a damn good idea.

Destination Santa Cruz

Build a site that has nothing to do with news, don’t put your brand anywhere on it, fill it up with valuable content for tourists looking for hotels, restaurants, etc., and sell some ads.

The site looks and feels new and real, not like the sort of cheap hotel aggregator site full of paid links and annoying pop-ups I often find through search engines.

Instead, the Sentinel used Joomla, an open-source content management system, without worrying about shoehorning all this content into an existing database on its existing, conventional, and slightly outdated newspaper site.

I love it. I would tell friends and family to use this site to find a hotel here. If I’m willing to recommend it to my Mom, that means you did a good job, folks.

I’ll be interested to see where this site comes up in search engines. Hopefully, the use of, y’know, actual content, will help it beat out the crud.

6 thoughts on “Newspapers: Make money online, minus the news”

  1. Hi Ryan,
    Has anyone built a news product using Joomla? a magazine or newspaper with regular updates? Everything I hear about Joomla is good.
    But I still tend to think of Bricolage when I think of open-source CMS for professional publishers. What do you think?


  2. […] Invisible Inkling has spotted a good way for regional newspapers to make money online using their local expertise: “Build a site that has nothing to do with news, don’t put your brand anywhere on it, fill it up with valuable content for tourists looking for hotels, restaurants, etc., and sell some ads.” That’s what the Santa Cruz Sentinel in California did with its new local tourism site, Destination Santa Cruz. […]


  3. Paul – I know some college papers – like this one – are using things like Joomla and Mambo, but I’m not familiar with Bricolage. It looks interesting, but I need to start playing with all these things to get an idea of what to try out for some different projects I’m brewing up.


  4. Hi Ryan,
    Thanks. Bricolage is kind of interesting. It got its start at one of the online magazines…I think it was Slate. They wound up giving it to the open-souce community. Primedia (now Prism) used it as the basis of its CMS, called PIRT.
    But Bricolage has sort of been forgotten. There are so many new open-source CM systems out there now with thousands of users.
    I know that there’s a company that’s offering a specialized version of Joomla for building magazine sites. It only costs about $50, and will likely save me a lot of time. So that’s what I’m likely to try next.


  5. Paul, what I’d love to see is a WordPress-like community where I can count on random developers all over the world toying with the CMS, creating plug-ins and add-ons and hacks and themes that I can incorporate into a site or remodel for my own purposes. I haven’t looked hard enough at any of these to know if it’s there yet for Joomla or Bricolage, but I’m hoping…


  6. It was once there for Bricolage, but no more. That community did some great work…but the members have moved on to something else. The community for Joomla is very active. There are lots of plug-ins, lots of add-ons and themes. It seems that, much like Word Press, Joomla has developed a fan base among the CMS crowd. Still, I’d rather see someone create a large-scale publishing CMS — something that could run a magazine or a newspaper — using WordPress. WordPress is the best CMS I’ve ever used. I adore it. But even with its page functions,e tc., it just doesn’t rise to the level of professional use.


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